Coronavirus: Government extends lockdown by 'at least' another three weeks

Published 16 April 2020

The Government has formally announced a three-week extension, at minimum, to the lockdown today (16 April 2020) as coronavirus-related deaths jump to 13,729. With the public being ordered to continue to Stay At Home, we've compiled all of our advice for car owners here.

The three-week extension to the coronavirus lockdown comes amid warnings that it is too soon to start easing restrictions. Despite the progress that has been seen in Europe, UK ministers have made it clear that containment measures will not be eased.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned countries that are easing containment restrictions to do so in two-week phases, in order to avoid the emergence of a second wave.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said this morning that life in the UK will not go straight back to normal when coronavirus lockdown measures are relaxed.

The UK is likely to maintain some level of social distancing until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is available, according to Neil Ferguson, the professor who helped shape the government's response to the pandemic.

His warning echoes the findings of a study published by researchers at Harvard which said that intermittent social distancing may have to last until 2022.

>> Speeding drivers treating empty roads like racetracks

From storing a car to getting help with finance payments, see all of our lockdown advice below

1Storing a petrol or diesel car

Car owners who are self-isolating may wish to put their vehicle into storage on their driveway or in their garage. 

To avoid potential battery draindown, it’s important to switch off the vehicle’s interior light and radio before switching off the ignition. Also, check that the boot light and the glovebox light go out when they are closed. You can do this with a smartphone by setting it to the video record setting and shutting it in the boot or the glovebox. If the light does not go out you may need to remove the bulb or switch it off - the vehicle’s owner’s manual will show you how to do this. 

Clean and polish the car. Leave it to dry outside and thoroughly heat through all systems to evaporate off any condensation. 

Overpressure the tyres to 40 PSI, this will help prevent flatspotting which occurs when the weight of the car presses down on the tyres and causes a flat spot to appear at the point where the tyres are in contact with the road/driveway/garage floor.

If you can, connect up to a trickle charger which monitors the car battery and keeps it to a constant 13.5 volts without damaging the electronics. If storing in a garage, leave one window open slightly to keep the interior ventilated, but not open enough to allow mice to get in, and cover with a cotton sheet.

If storing outside, consider using a car cover. Most will allow some breathing, but condensation will also occur under them. They need to be tied down with a washing line wrapped under the car to stay on in a high wind. 

If the car has an automatic transmission, make sure you can get access to the battery because if it's flat when you return you may be unable to access the engine bay if you have parked next to a wall or object.

 

2Storing a hybrid car

First of all, the key message from car manufacturers is you shouldn’t be concerned about the hybrid (traction) battery. This is the big battery which works with the petrol engine to provide power.

In ordinary circumstances, the hybrid system will make sure this battery will never go entirely flat. In Honda hybrids, for example, the system will always retain between 20 and 80 per cent charge. Even if you leave it for a long period, it’ll retain some charge - and the next time you drive it, the petrol engine will recharge the battery.

That leaves the smaller 12v battery. This is the battery you’ll find in any car, which is used primarily to start the car. When the car’s being driven, it charges up the 12v battery, leaving it with enough electricity to start the car next time you use it.

The issue comes when the car isn’t used for a long period of time - when you’re on holiday, for example, or staying at home during a global pandemic. It’s normal for the 12v battery to lose charge over time.

If the battery’s in good health, this should be able to last several months without depleting too much charge to start the car. There are a number of ways you can maintain the 12v battery in your hybrid car so that it’s not completely flat when you need it. Ordinarily, we’d recommend taking the car for a good half an hour drive every week to keep the battery topped up, but that’s not advised in the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

If possible, we’d suggest using a trickle charger such as this CTEK device. This’ll provide your battery with a steady stream of electricity, keeping it charged up and in good health. They’re quite clever in that they can measure how much charge is required, preventing it from overcharging. The downside is that you’ll need electricity to plug the charger into - great if you’ve got a garage with electricity; not so great if you park on the street.

Trickle chargers will work with most hybrid cars that have a separate 12v battery under the bonnet. Before you invest in one, consult your car’s manual to find out if it recommends the use of a trickle charger.

If you haven't used a trickle charger and your 12v battery is flat, most hybrids can be jump-started. Again, it’s important to check your owner’s manual before you do this, and follow important safety precautions to prevent injuring yourself. This video should help.

On recent Hyundai and Kia hybrid models, the 12v battery is tucked away inside the car’s lithium ion hybrid battery pack. That might seem unhelpful if you’re looking to trickle charge or jump start your car - but there is a plus side. They have a clever ‘battery reset’ button on the dash. Press this, and it’ll use the hybrid battery to charge the 12v battery. This means you can effectively jump start your own car from the comfort of the driver’s seat.

Battery concerns aside, there’s not much you need to do when storing your hybrid car. You could consider pumping some extra air into the tyres to prevent flat spots, but this isn’t really necessary with modern tyres.

The important thing is to ensure all doors are fully closed and the car’s locked. This helps security but also minimises drain on the battery.

If your car has a manual handbrake, we’d recommend leaving this off to prevent it sticking - but make sure you leave your car with the automatic transmission in 'park' to prevent it rolling away. Consider placing a brick behind one of the tyres, too.

When you drive the car for the first time in a prolonged period, it’s normal for some surface corrosion of the brake discs to have occurred. This might sound and feel strange the first few times you use the brakes, but it’ll soon wear off.

Importantly, when you do drive your car for the first time (when government guidance suggests you can), give it a good run for half an hour or so to make sure the 12v battery is fully charged. Giving the engine time to run up to temperature will also be beneficial.

3How to get help with your car finance payments

Last updated: 22 April 2020

Most car manufacturers are referring their customers to the Covid-19 FAQs on their individual websites, which explains what customers can do if they are worried about or unable to pay their monthly car payments.

The assistance available right now varies on a case-by-case basis from each lender, but the vast majority have said they will do everything they can to help their customers get through this extremely difficult period and keep their cars.

Some finance providers are offering payment holidays that will give people the breathing space they need to take stock and work out what their finances will look like in the coming months. Other finance companies are offering restructuring packages that will allow some customers to extend the length of their lease or PCP agreement and reduce their monthly car payments.

However, while payment holidays and restructuring agreements will give some people the time they need to reorganise their finances, it’s important to understand that these options may tie some consumers into higher borrowing costs and/or additional fees. 

In all cases, it’s important to ask the lender to explain (in writing) what additional costs you may be liable for when restructuring or extending their financial product. And don’t forget to ask what the impact will be (if any) on your credit score. 

If you think you may not be able to afford an upcoming payment for your car then it’s important to contact your finance provider and explain your personal circumstances.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced another proposed package of measures to directly support consumers facing payment difficulties due to coronavirus. The proposals are intended to complement the already in place Government-issued measures to support consumers during the pandemic, covering vehicle finance and high cost credit agreements. 

The FCA expects firms to provide a three-month payment freeze to customers who are having temporary difficulties meeting finance or leasing payments due to coronavirus. If customers are experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus, firms should not take steps to end the agreement or repossess the vehicle.

The FCA has also proposed that firms should not change customer contracts unfairly. For example, using the temporary depreciation of car prices caused by the coronavirus situation to recalculate Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) balloon payments at the end of the term.

Where a customer wishes to keep their vehicle at the end of their PCP agreement, but does not have the cash to cover the balloon payment due to coronavirus-related financial difficulties, firms should work with the customer to find an appropriate solution.

The FCA expects to finalise proposals by Friday 24 April 2020, with them coming into force shortly afterwards.

Free advice and support with debt is also available from a number of organisations, including StepChange, National Debtline, PayPlan or Citizens Advice.

Coronavirus and car finance - what the finance companies are saying

Manufacturer Coronavirus response 
Alfa Romeo "We ask those customers who are experiencing payment issues to please contact our customer support team. We will look at the individual circumstances and address them on a case by case basis."
Audi (Volkswagen Financial Services)

As the situation evolves this may cause concern and disruption to customers and their usual lives and for any customer that may find themselves in financial difficulty, there are a number of options available which can provide support. This can include:


• Agreeing an affordable repayment plan over an extended period of time
• Giving breathing space (not contact or chasing for payment) to consider finances (for up to 60 days) 
• Allowing customers to keep the vehicle for as long as possible

More information here.

BMW

Customers are advised to call BMW Financial Services in the first instance. BMW Group Financial Services treats each case individually and works with our customers to support where we can, based on their individual circumstances.

If customers have concerns about their ability to pay their vehicle finance agreement as a direct result of COVID-19, we can support with a range of alternative options, which could include significantly reduced payments for a number of months.

Citroen (PSA Finance)

If as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, you have been financially impacted and you need help then we are here to listen and find the right solution for your circumstances. To help us do that, we would encourage you to complete our online request via your MyFinance account.

Dacia If any of our customers have been impacted, we will be here to support them. Customers can contact us via our customer portal, email or telephone to discuss any concerns they may have.
DS (PSA Finance) In responding to events we take into account best practice, UK Government guidance and our legal and regulatory obligations.

If as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, you have been financially impacted and you need help then we are here to listen and find the right solution for your circumstances. To help us do that, we would encourage you to complete our online request via your MyFinance account, click here.

Fiat "We ask those customers who are experiencing payment issues to please contact our customer support team. We will look at the individual circumstances and address them on a case by case basis."
Ford

"With customers always a top priority, Ford Credit Europe offers a number of tools to help vulnerable customers regardless of the situation. These differ slightly country by country but currently include reduced payments, payment extensions and payment holidays. Additionally Ford Credit Europe have introduced additional special measures to help anyone leasing or financing their car through Ford Credit Europe to offset the potential economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. These include extended payment arrangements, payment holidays for all markets, cancellation of late fees and charges, and flexibility on payment methods. Support is being offered on a case-by-case basis dependent on each individual‘s needs."

Honda

"In the first instance, the customer should contact Honda Finance Europe customer services to discuss their circumstances.  Honda Finance Europe is able to grant a one month payment holiday and up to three months where the customer states they are unlikely to be paid for that time."
Hyundai

For any queries, worries or concerns, customers are advised to log on to: www.hyundaifinance.co.uk and then click on to the ‘Managing my contract’ tab in the first instance.

"Customers’ individual circumstances will be considered at all times." 

Jaguar

If your income has been affected by the disruption from Coronavirus, we have a
range of options to help you including payment deferrals and other additional support if you need it. If you need to defer your payment now, you can do this online or by calling us on 0800 1512454. Please try the online option first as this is the quickest way to process a payment break.

Deferrals subject to an additional interest payment to cover the period of time between when the payment was originally due and the new payment date, but this additional interest payment is not payable until the end of the agreement.

If customers defer their payment, this will not have any detrimental impact on their credit rating and they will not incur any other additional charges due to non-payment.

Most customers are able to defer their next payment online using our _Manage My Account` service and selecting the _Change Payment Date` option, so please try using this in the first instance. Please note that we are unable to process a payment deferral in the five days before the payment due date.

Jeep "We ask those customers who are experiencing payment issues to please contact our customer support team. We will look at the individual circumstances and address them on a case by case basis."
Kia Customers with any queries, worries or concerns about their finance agreement should go to www.kiafinance.co.uk in the first instance, which provides a number of options for customers (under the ‘Managing my Contract’ tab). There is also a coronavirus specific advice section regarding finance here.

"Kia finance will look at individual cases and take action accordingly, we will always support our customers the best we can."

Land Rover

If your income has been affected by the disruption from Coronavirus, we have a
range of options to help you including payment deferrals and other additional support if you need it. If you need to defer your payment now, you can do this online or by calling us on 0800 1512454. Please try the online option first as this is the quickest way to process a payment break.

Deferrals subject to an additional interest payment to cover the period of time between when the payment was originally due and the new payment date, but this additional interest payment is not payable until the end of the agreement.

If customers defer their payment, this will not have any detrimental impact on their credit rating and they will not incur any other additional charges due to non-payment.

Most customers are able to defer their next payment online using our _Manage My Account` service and selecting the _Change Payment Date` option, so please try using this in the first instance. Please note that we are unable to process a payment deferral in the five days before the payment due date.

Lexus Concerned owners who have a finance agreement are advised to get in touch so you can discuss the different options that are available.
Mazda
  • As per existing guidelines within all customer finance agreements, we offer access to our ‘Finance Customer Support team’. Please always contact us at your earliest opportunity for payment queries to find out the best solution for your circumstance.
  • The team can be contacted on 0800 085 1759 between 9.00am and 7.00pm, Monday to Friday, via email at customerservices@santanderconsumer.co.uk or customers can visit santanderconsumer.co.uk online to access information under the ‘Manage Your Account’ section.

"With regard to length of payment holidays and criteria, this is on a case by case basis."

Mercedes-Benz "Mercedes-Benz Financial Services will be working closely with customers facing financial difficulty – reviewing each request on a case-by-case basis and ensuring the best possible outcomes for them."
MG Awaiting response
MINI

If customers have concerns about their ability to pay their vehicle finance agreement as a direct result of COVID-19, we can support with a range of alternative options, which could include significantly reduced payments for a number of months.

Mitsubishi

"For those of you who have financed your vehicle through our partner Shogun Finance or Shogun Vehicle Leasing, you can apply for a repayment holiday to take this worry away while we all tackle this crisis together. Please contact the respective customer service centre, but please be patient as they are experiencing unprecedented levels of inbound calls."

Please visit  www.blackhorse.co.uk/home and click the link ‘Worried about Coronavirus? We’re here to help’  You can manage your account online and, for example, change the date of your next payment. If you’re concerned about making a payment due to coronavirus impacting your income please call 0800 151 2454 to discuss your agreement but please be aware there may be a delay in answering your call due to the number of people trying to get in touch at the moment.

Nissan "As a responsible lender, Nissan Finance understands that a number of customers may be affected by the impact of Covid-19 Coronavirus. If any of our customers have been impacted, we will be here to support them. Customers can contact us via our customer portal, email or telephone to discuss any concerns they may have."
Peugeot (PSA Finance)

If as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, you have been financially impacted and you need help then we are here to listen and find the right solution for your circumstances. To help us do that, we would encourage you to complete our online request via your MyFinance account.

Porsche

As the situation evolves this may cause concern and disruption to customers and their usual lives and for any customer that may find themselves in financial difficulty, there are a number of options available which can provide support. This can include:


• Agreeing an affordable repayment plan over an extended period of time
• Giving breathing space (not contact or chasing for payment) to consider finances (for up to 60 days) 
• Allowing customers to keep the vehicle for as long as possible

More information here.

Renault

As a responsible lender, Renault Finance understands that a number of customers may be affected by the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus. If any of our customers have been impacted, we will be here to support them. Customers can contact us via our customer portal, email or telephone to discuss any concerns they may have.

SEAT (Volkswagen Financial Services)

As the situation evolves this may cause concern and disruption to customers and their usual lives and for any customer that may find themselves in financial difficulty, there are a number of options available which can provide support. This can include:


• Agreeing an affordable repayment plan over an extended period of time
• Giving breathing space (not contact or chasing for payment) to consider finances (for up to 60 days) 
• Allowing customers to keep the vehicle for as long as possible

More information here.

Skoda (Volkswagen Financial Services)

As the situation evolves this may cause concern and disruption to customers and their usual lives and for any customer that may find themselves in financial difficulty, there are a number of options available which can provide support. This can include:


• Agreeing an affordable repayment plan over an extended period of time
• Giving breathing space (not contact or chasing for payment) to consider finances (for up to 60 days) 
• Allowing customers to keep the vehicle for as long as possible

More information here.

Smart The brand said they will be working closely with customers facing financial difficulty – reviewing each request on a case-by-case basis and ensuring the best possible outcomes for them.
SsangYong "SsangYong Motors UK’s finance partner is Northridge Finance and both of us are looking to help people where we can. Northridge fund SsangYong and many other vehicles - and have put a broad number of actions in place to help.

Northridge’s managing director, James McGee said; 'If customers need additional help with managing their current agreement, or face disruption to finances, we will work with them to look at ways to make things easier. To help with this, we have set up a dedicated area on our website to give them advice and guidance at this time of uncertainty. We have created a simple Covid19 form where impacted customers can apply quickly for a payment break of up to three months. We are prioritising these requests at present and have received very positive feedback on the ease of process. For our dealer partners our experienced sales team are contactable as usual and equipped to answer all queries.'"

Subaru

Awaiting response 

Suzuki "If the income of a customer has been affected by the disruption of coronavirus, we have a range of options to help including payment deferrals, along with additional support if required.

Our online services also remain accessible for customers to manage their account directly including securely changing their payment date, making a payment, checking balances, or requesting a settlement figure. Alternatively customers can contact our Customer Support team directly on 0800 151 2454."

Tesla We were told Tesla's finance is handled by Black Horse and JBR Capital.
Toyota Concerned owners who have a finance agreement are advised to get in touch with Toyota Financial Services directly so you can discuss the different options that are available.  
Vauxhall Email the information shown below and Vauxhall will contact you asap.
  • Full name
  • Agreement or registration number
  • First line of your address and postcode
  • Best contact number
  • An overview of the issues you are facing and the help you need
Please put your agreement number or registration as the subject line and send this to C19Assistance@vauxhallfinance.com
Volkswagen (Volkswagen Financial Services)

As the situation evolves this may cause concern and disruption to customers and their usual lives and for any customer that may find themselves in financial difficulty, there are a number of options available which can provide support. This can include:


• Agreeing an affordable repayment plan over an extended period of time
• Giving breathing space (not contact or chasing for payment) to consider finances (for up to 60 days) 
• Allowing customers to keep the vehicle for as long as possible

More information here.

Volvo

"Volvo Car UK understands that our customers may have many concerns during this unprecedented period, and we will do all we can to support them. This includes monthly payments, and we are working with our finance partner, Santander Consumer, to explore the available options for our customers. Any customer worried about financial difficulties should contact Santander Consumer."

 

 

4Will trickle charging or jump-starting your car's battery invalidate the warranty?

We received thousands of reader questions via Ask HJ regarding battery care during the coronavirus lockdown. The general advice is to read the owner's manual for the vehicle and follow the official guidance for trickle charging or jump-starting. But even if you do this, what are the implications for the vehicle's warranty? 

We contacted every carmaker in the UK to uncover the manufacturer-specific advice on car charging and jump-starting.

Click here to see all of the advice we recieved from manufacturers.

5Will a delayed service invalidate my car's warranty?

Drivers should not be concerned about invalidating their warranty by delaying servicing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ordinarily, a delayed service could invalidate your car's warranty. However, we've contacted a number of car manufacturers and been told, generally, that most will be sympathetic to the situation.

While garages are legally allowed to remain open during the Government lockdown, many car manufacturer approved-dealer service departments are closing or limiting their business to key workers only.

Click here to see what advice car manufacturers are offering to concerned customers who are unable to get their vehicle serviced.

Ask HJ

Can I drive my car without tax during the coronavirus outbreak?

I have March 1979 registered car, which became a historic vehicle this year. Tax ran out 31 March 2020. Followed instructions on DVLA website and took relevant documents to the post office, which said it could not deal with it. So I sent documents with covering letter to DVLA on 12 March. I've not had any reply. I checked their website today and note that they are not dealing with paper applications until further notice. The car is insured and MoT'd, so can I legally use it? DVLA online shows tax as expired.
The current Government advice is to avoid all non-essential travel so there's no reason you should be using your historic vehicle at this time. Our emergency services are already stretched and the police are starting to issue fines to drivers who are not going out for essentials (be that food or medical supplies). I'm sure the DVLA will update the tax status of your car after the lockdown is lifted so you can get out driving it again. But, for now, please - stay safe and stay home.
Answered by Keith Moody
More Questions
Ask HJ

Can I end my lease early due to coronavirus?

Can I return my car due to the coronavirus outbreak? I can't afford the car now. I have about 9 months left till the midway point of the finance agreement.
The coronavirus outbreak does not give you the automatic right to end the PCP agreement early. However, if you are concerned about your income or the monthly payments for your car, I would recommend contacting the finance provider to see what options are available. For more information, see: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/coronavirus/2020-03/coronavirus-financial-conduct-authority-proposes-three-month-freeze-on-loan-repayments/
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions
Ask HJ

The factory that was building my ordered car has closed. Where do I stand with the dealer?

I ordered a new Volvo XC40, which was due to be built on 4 April and delivered to the dealer around 16 April. The factory in Belgium were it is being built is closed, so how do I stand with regards to the agreement with the supplying dealer? I am concerned that the price we agreed for the part exchange will not be valid.
Email the dealer and ask for clarification for vehicle delivery (many salesroom staff continue to work from home). The trade-in value shouldn't be affected. It might even improve, with used values set to increase as new car stocks becomes harder to find: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/coronavirus/2020-03/coronavirus-used-car-prices-set-to-soar-as-coronavirus-hits-new-car-production
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

Comments

   on 18 April 2020

I was told by my Toyota dealer that a hybrid 12v battery would likely only last two weeks max without the car being run and Toyota has put out advice to run the engine once a week for 60 minutes blog.toyota.co.uk/coronavirus-toyota-hybrid-car-ma...e

So several months seems optimistic....

Add a comment

 

Ask Honest John

Value my car